About Guyana [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Guyana; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela

Climate

Tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)

Terrain

Mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south

Elevation

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m

Geo Notes

The third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
conventional short form: Guyana
former: British Guiana

Capital City

name: Georgetown
geographic coordinates: 6 48 N, 58 10 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions

10 regions; Barima-Waini, Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Demerara-Mahaica, East Berbice-Corentyne, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Mahaica-Berbice, Pomeroon-Supenaam, Potaro-Siparuni, Upper Demerara-Berbice, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo

Natuaral Hazards

Flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons

Environmental Issues

Water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation

Infectious Diseases

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)

Life Expectancy

total population: 66.74 years
male: 62.93 years
female: 70.74 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu

Religions Practiced

Hindu 28.4%, Pentecostal 16.9%, Roman Catholic 8.1%, Anglican 6.9%, Seventh Day Adventist 5%, Methodist 1.7%, Jehovah Witness 1.1%, other Christian 17.7%, Muslim 7.2%, other 4.3%, none 4.3% (2002 census)

Legal System

Based on English common law with certain admixtures of Roman-Dutch law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National Holiday

Republic Day, 23 February (1970)

Illicit Drugs

Transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the US; producer of cannabis; rising money laundering related to drug trafficking and human smuggling

Telephone System

general assessment: fair system for long-distance service; microwave radio relay network for trunk lines; many areas still lack fixed-line telephone services
domestic: fixed-line teledensity is about 15 per 100 persons; ; mobile-cellular teledensity about 35 per 100 persons in 2005
international: country code - 592; tropospheric scatter to Trinidad; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast Media

Government-dominated broadcast media; the National Communications Network (NCN) TV is state-owned; a few private TV stations relay satellite services; the state owns and operates 2 radio stations broadcasting on multiple frequencies capable of reaching the entire country; government limits on licensing of new private radio stations continue to constrain competition in broadcast media (2007)

Background

Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.

Economy Overview

The Guyanese economy exhibited moderate economic growth in recent years and is based largely on agriculture and extractive industries. The economy is heavily dependent upon the export of six commodities - sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber, and rice - which represent nearly 60% of the country's GDP and are highly susceptible to adverse weather conditions and fluctuations in commodity prices. Guyana's entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) in January 2006 has broadened the country's export market, primarily in the raw materials sector. Economic recovery since a 2005 flood-related contraction was buoyed by increases in remittances and foreign direct investment in the sugar and rice industries as well as the mining sector. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure. The government is juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. In March 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank, Guyana's principal donor, canceled Guyana's nearly $470 million debt, equivalent to nearly 48% of GDP, which along with other Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) debt forgiveness brought the debt-to-GDP ratio down from 183% in 2006 to 120% in 2007. Guyana became heavily indebted as a result of the inward-looking, state-led development model pursued in the 1970s and 1980s. Growth turned negative in 2009 as a result of the world recession. The slowdown in the domestic economy and lower import costs helped to narrow the country's current account deficit in 2009, despite lower earnings from exports, but growth is expected to rebound in 2010 as exports benefit from higher commodity prices.

People Trafficking

current situation: Guyana is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; most trafficking appears to take place in remote mining camps in the country's interior; some women and girls are trafficked from northern Brazil; reporting from other nations suggests Guyanese women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation to neighboring countries and Guyanese men and boys are subject to labor exploitation in construction and agriculture; trafficking victims from Suriname, Brazil, and Venezuela transit Guyana en route to Caribbean destinations
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for a second consecutive year, Guyana is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking, particularly in the area of law enforcement actions against trafficking offenders; the government has yet to produce an anti-trafficking conviction under the comprehensive Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, which became law in 2005; the government operates no shelters for trafficking victims, but did include limited funding for anti-trafficking NGOs in its 2008 budget; the government did not make any effort to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during 2007 (2008)

National Anthem

name: "Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains"
lyrics/music: Archibald Leonard LUKERL/Robert Cyril Gladstone POTTER
note: adopted 1966

Guyana location map
Size

total: 214,969 sq km
land: 196,849 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km

Guyana flag
Population

748,486 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Guyanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Guyanese

Ethnic Groups

East Indian 43.5%, black (African) 30.2%, mixed 16.7%, Amerindian 9.1%, other 0.5% (2002 census)

HIV/AIDS Rate

2.5% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

26 May 1966 (from the UK)

Government Type

Republic

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

205,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

8,840 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.gy

Number Airports

96 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2010)

Roadways

total: 7,970 km
paved: 590 km
unpaved: 7,380 km (2000)

Inland Waterways

330 km
note: Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo rivers are navigable by oceangoing vessels for 150 km, 100 km, and 80 km respectively (2008)

Ports & Terminals

Georgetown

National Budget

revenues: $550 million
expenditures: $624.8 million (2009 est.)

Account Balance

-$265 million (2009 est.)
-$191.6 million (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates

Guyanese dollars (GYD) per US dollar - 204.57 (2009), 203.86 (2008), 201.89 (2007), 200.28 (2006), 200.79 (2005)

Inflation Rate

2.9% (2009 est.)
8.1% (2008 est.)

Main Industries

Bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining

Agricultural Products

Sugarcane, rice, edible oils; shrimp, fish, beef, pork, poultry

Labor Force

333,900 (2007 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment Rate

11% (2007)

GDP (USD Parity)

$4.873 billion (2009 est.)
$4.763 billion (2008 est.)
$4.622 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$6,500 (2009 est.)
$6,300 (2008 est.)
$6,100 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 33.8% (1999)

Family Income Gini

43.2 (1999)

Below Poverty

NA%